At the end of last year, the water coming out the tap in Trenton was purple.

Members of the public were told the discoloration was caused by an excess amount of potassium permangante, and was nothing to worry about, but questions were raised about the safety of this chemical over extended periods of time.

Prior to that, a broken filter at Trenton Water Works went undetected for months, causing contamination problems for customers in Ewing, Hamilton, Hopewell and Lawrence, and officials in those towns were not even notified there was a water quality issue.

Contamination and communication issues have plagued Trenton Water Works for years, so to remedy the situation, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) has introduced a measure to create a Mercer County Regional Water Services Commission to oversee operations at TWW.

“This is necessary because we’ve had some challenges at Trenton Water Works for some time,” he said. “I’m trying to bring up Trenton Water Works to the standards that a private sector (company) would have to do, from clean water to notifications to safety and security measures.”

He said the 17-member commission will include elected officials from neighboring towns served by TWW, as well as representatives for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Board of Public Utilities and the Department of Community Affairs. Four other individuals with engineering or public water expertise would also serve on the panel.

“They would be involved a little bit with oversight. They would be involved if there are employee issues, with quality issues, if there’s a need for upgrades,” DeAngelo said.

His legislation specifies the commission would be responsible for the managerial and operation functions at Trenton Water Works, reviewing and approving contracts, and  fixing and overseeing the hiring and firing of managers and executive personnel at TWW.

“Considering the issues we’ve had in the past with Trenton Water, we have no other alternative," DeAngelo said.

He added “no one in this day in age should have to fear for drinking contaminated water, and with the current situation in the city of Trenton, no one knew that they were drinking contaminated water. Not having water quality, not being able to have a voice, that’s a problem.”

DeAngelo said he’s hopeful the measure will be voted on and approved by the end of the week, before state lawmakers leave for the summer, so Gov. Phil Murphy can sign it into law immediately.

The legislation specifies the commission would be required to submit a report to the governor and the legislature after 5 years to review actions that have been taken.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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